“The Defection of Baby Mixo” by Mark Penny was a finalist in the 2012 Four Centuries of Mormon Stories contest. It was originally published online at Everyday Mormon Writer on October 24, 2012.
I’ve decided to leave the Church. Well, sort of. I believe in God and Jesus and the Holy Ghost and the Book of Mormon and temples and all that, so I’m not rejecting the core beliefs or becoming an atheist or agnostic or Protestant or anything like that. In fact, my faith and devotion are very strong. That’s part of the problem. The thing is that while I’ve been back on Earth, I’ve made friends with people from the O-LDS Church and been to their meetings and listened to their missionaries and I’ve found my spiritual home.
What troubles me is that I now know that the LGBT-LDS Church is not true. It has most of the same teachings as the Original Church, but there is a big difference in some of the commandments—well, one of the commandments. I think you know which one.
I never said it plainly before, but I’ve always been uncomfortable with the boy-boy, girl-girl thing—and with people dressing up like they’re in the wrong body or getting their body changed to match their “true self.” I know we talked about it a little bit from time to time—and you even had me talk with the Bishop about my resistance to dating other guys, even though most of the youth were gay or lesbian or bisexual. In the end, I did go out with other guys a few times and even did some kissing, but it always felt wrong to me, so I eventually just refused any kind of romantic relationship with people of my gender. Of course, there was never any romance with the lesbian girls, although one or two admitted they thought they might actually be hetero. I hate to say it, but the fact is that in a church community set up for gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transsexuals, there’s a lot of pressure to be one or another of the four—and not to be heterosexual. After all, the whole idea of breaking away from the Original Church was to have an alternative lifestyle religion (and the community to go with it). I see that changing a bit, softening, and that’s nice, but, like I said, my problem isn’t so much that heterosexuality is frowned upon as that other forms of sexuality are accepted and encouraged.
I know this is painful for you to hear and goes against some of what you taught me, especially about tolerance. I hate that this is happening, but I can’t deny what I feel. I know a lot of people feel a lot of things, but this is what I feel and what I have to live by. These are the dictates of my conscience, whatever other people’s consciences dictate, and part of what Jesus will judge me by.
This doesn’t mean I love you less. It just means our religions won’t be completely the same. And whatever my beliefs about the lifestyle you have chosen (or which has chosen you, as you often told me when I was little), you’re still my dads and I still love and respect you. There may be a problem about the grandkids when I get married, though. The O-Mos are really circling the wagons these days and there’s a lot of talk about raising the bar to save the rising generation. It’s quite possible that my future wife, whoever she turns out to be, will have serious qualms about exposing her offspring to alternative lifestyles. I’ll do my best to find a soul-mate with an open mind on other people’s sexuality, but I’ve got to work with what there is and the trend right now is a bit ominous in that regard. However, even at the risk of turning to salt, I’ll be home for Christmas, as planned, and I won’t stop coming to see you no matter what. Whoever I marry will have to agree to that at least. I’m not going to abandon my family just because my religion is against their sexual orientation—and Mars costs an arm and a leg to get to.
I’m also not going to preach to you about giving up your lifestyle. I know how much it means to you. You guys really love each other and wouldn’t be happy if you weren’t married to each other. It’ll just have to be live and let live. And don’t worry, I won’t pretend to my kids that I don’t have gay parents. They’ll know about you and what great dads you are. I wish I had had a live-in mom to tell them about, but I had a womb mom (when she was around and had the time) and plenty of aunts, I guess, and they filled in okay when I needed feminine parenting. You guys are queers, not sissies, and you don’t have that womanly touch.
My new friends are blown away by some of what I tell them about how things are done in the Colony. Home sharing always raises an eyebrow, but genetic scrambling nearly pops a vein. It’s not like they never heard of the technology; they just never thought same-sex chromosomes could be mixed. To them, scrambling was always a cure for heterosexual infertility. Of course, the punch line is that homosexual couples are incurably infertile but for scrambling. Then they want to know why the chromosomes aren’t screened for the Gene, so that people like me don’t happen—straight biological children of queer parents. If they’ll listen, I try to explain about the Spectrum of Orientation, but not many of them really get it and fewer even try to believe it, so most of the time, I just tell people that screening wouldn’t be cricket, though it would save some heartache.
Mom says hello. She’s not that keen on my decision either, but she says it’s my body and my life and as long as I don’t try to reform the rest of the family, it’s my business and she won’t hold it too much against me. Did I ever tell you guys about our nicknames for each other? A couple of years before Mom and Auntie Sheila left the Colony, I read an obscure Asimov story called “The Gods Themselves” where these aliens in a parallel universe reproduced in threes, with one as the facilitator. Mind you, their method of reproduction was complete union: the three individuals (left, right and mid) temporarily merged to conceive a new “soft” before permanently merging to form a new balanced individual called a “hard.” After I read the story, that became Mom’s and my private joke. I don’t think I ever told you. My nickname for Mom is “Mid.” You guys are “Left” and “Right.” Me, I’m just “Baby Mixo.”
As you requested, I asked Mom what she’d heard about the potential split and she said it sounded like it was going to happen. A lot of people are upset about it, but there’s a really strong conservative element that sees bisexuality as an insurmountable problem as long as polygamy is forbidden, and a really vocal bisexual element that thinks it sucks to be forced to choose one partner. The old teaching about no boy spirits in girls’ bodies and vice versa has made a big comeback, too, so the transsexuals may end up leaving as well. On the bright side, the name and acronym for your church will be easier to remember, just plain old Q-LDS, but Mom says there’s a lot of tears and hard feelings right now. I hope the unhappiness doesn’t spread to the Colony, but I suppose it eventually will.
It’s kind of weird that this is an issue in the late twenty-first century and I kind of wish that the different LDS churches were just different rooms of the same house instead of separate houses, but things are what they are and a choice has to be made. Sometimes a gay man has to leave the straight church and a straight man has to leave the gay church, especially when his heart tells him the gay church is wrong. I really hate saying that to you, but it’s important that you understand the nature of my thinking. This is really core to who I am.
I’ve tried to keep it light, but this has been a really emotional email to write. Family is core to all the Churches and the idea that not all the Churches are right is devastating, no matter what your beliefs about the nitty-gritty of orientation. All we can do is go where we think the Spirit leads us and hope the Lord will sort things out in the Great By and By.
Meanwhile, I remain
Your loving son and eternal friend,
About the Author: Mark Penny (aka Mars Denar) teaches English in Taiwan. When his students aren’t looking, he writes poetry and fiction—often right under their noses. His pet themes include teaching English to aliens, crash-landing on desert planets, and dealing with parasitic mixed phase matter consciousnesses.*
*Author information as of the publication of this story.